Archive for October, 2009

Online Connections Thanks to Speaking for Spot

October 28, 2009

 It has been a year since my book Speaking for Spot was released, and what an amazing year it has been.  I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible about the book business.  I’ve traveled with Spot, met many Spot fans, and was interviewed by one of my all time idols on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  As word of Speaking for Spot has spread, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people online and have thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their lives and their doggies.  Here are a couple of examples. 

Carolyn is a wildlife biologist living in Belize.  I’m jealous! My family had the good fortune of visiting Belize a few years back- my husband and I fantasized about not returning home!  Carolyn has provided me with some photos of her menagerie of dogs.  I sense that Maggie is the apple of her eye.  It’s no wonder- take a look at the photos of this insanely adorable little dog. 

Maddie and Carolyn

Maggie and Carolyn

Judy shares her life with Ricochet, an incredible Golden Retriever who loves to play in the waves, but not in the conventional canine fashion.  Ricochet rides a surfboard!  As Judy describes it, “Ricochet was slated to be a service dog for people with disabilities.  But she had too strong a chase drive, and I couldn’t trust that she wouldn’t try to chase birds while attached to a wheelchair.  I struggled for 18 months trying to make her something she wasn’t.  When I finally let go, she just flourished!” 

Ricochet and Patrick

Ricochet and Patrick

The sweetest part of Ricochet’s story is her special connection with fellow surfer, Patrick Ivison.  Patrick is a teenager who sustained a spinal cord injury and has now mastered the art of adaptive surfing. Patrick and Ricochet have surfed together as part of a successful fundraising campaign to raise money for Patrick’s physical rehabilitation program (donations are still being accepted at http://www.ripcurlricki.com/Donate.htm). To read more about Ricochet and Patrick, pay a visit to http://www.ripcurlricki.com/SurfinforPawsabilities.htm

Patrick and Ricochet

Patrick and Ricochet

If you’re like me, you just can’t help but smile looking at these photos.  Thanks to Carolyn and Judy for telling me about Maggie and Ricochet.  If you have a wonderful dog in your life (I’ll bet you do), I invite you to share your story!

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

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New Genome Barks Podcasts

October 27, 2009

The American Kennel Club and the AKC Canine Health Foundation are pleased to debut two new podcasts in the Genome Barks series.

Genome Barks Podcast – The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals with Dr. Greg Keller

The Genome Barks Podcast Series welcomes Dr. Greg Keller, Chief of Veterinary Services with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).  Dr. Keller shares with us the history of the OFA and discusses the many health databases that the OFA manages.  Dr. Keller also explains the OFA process for evaluating radiographs and the differences between OFA evaluations and those of PennHip.

Genome Barks Podcast – How Can Great Danes and Chihuahuas Be Related? With Dr. Heidi Parker of NIH

Genome Barks welcomes Dr. Heidi Parker of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health.  Dr. Parker has been studying how different purebred dogs are related genetically.  This research will be instrumental in determining how different breeds share disease.  How can the Great Dane and the Chihuahua be members of the same species?  Listen and find out!

The Genome Barks podcast series features lectures from the highly successful AKC-CHF Breeders Symposia and provides responsible breeders and pet owners an inside look at the work being done by the AKC and the AKC Canine Health Foundation.

New podcasts are released every two weeks and can be accessed from either the American Kennel Club website at http://www.akc.org or the AKC Canine Health Foundation website at www.akcchf.org – click on “Podcasts.” They are also available on Apple’s iTunes or directly at www.genomebarks.com

Clubs are encouraged to add the Genome Barks Podcast link to their home pages.

AKC Canine Health Foundation
http://www.akcchf.org

Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged family members much good health!

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Tipper’s Trials and Tribulations

October 21, 2009
Tipper and Jacob

Tipper and Jacob

Tipper came to live with us just over a month ago.  We don’t know what he was called during his former life in Louisiana.  Like so many other dogs, Hurricane Katrina forced Tipper to adapt to a new name, unfamiliar humans, and an unknown environment (while undergoing treatment for heartworm disease).  Tipper is the definition of adaptable, and he came through all this change with flying colors and a big ‘ole smile on his face.  He’s a big beefy mutt- likely the result of a Doberman and Shepherd rendezvous.  His tail is jet-black with a white tip (thus the name Tipper) and never quits wagging.  My son Jacob, then an undergrad at Colorado State University, signed up to adopt a Katrina rescue dog.  He was paired with Tipper (a match made in heaven) and the two have been inseparable, up until now that is.

Jacob graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife biology and minors in Spanish and conservation (can you sense a mama bragging here).  He is now off in Guatemala studying jaguars.  He figured he could trust his two parents, both veterinarians, to take care of his dog.  So now Tipper has become part of our canine trio enjoying the life of a country dog. In addition to goats, and horses (and horse manure), and deer, and cats, and foxes, and wild turkeys, Tip’s experienced some unexpected mishaps during his short stay with “grandma” and “grandpa”.  

Week one:  It’s foxtail season here in California, and one of these annoying plant awns landed deep in Tipper’s ear canal resulting in furious head shaking. Using an otoscope and a special type of instrument called an “alligator forceps” I fished the foxtail out of his ear canal. Tipper and his eardrum were immediately relieved. Problem solved. 

Week two:  Over the course of a few hours, Tipper vomited six times and his face swelled to the point of his eyes being closed.  Poor boy must have ingested or been stung or bitten by an insect or spider resulting in a severe allergic reaction.  Some antihistamine and TLC were administered and, within 24 hours, Tip was good as new.  Problem solved. 

Week three (at dusk):  Tipper came scampering into the house with his eyes at half-mast and reeking of “Eau de Skunk.”  Clearly, the little black and white critter took good aim and hit poor Tipper right between the eyes.  Fortunately, Nellie and Quinn, his two partners in crime managed to avoid the skunk- they’ve learned from past mistakes.  Tipper received eye ointment and his first California baths.  Problem solved (although he still smells a bit skunky). 

Week four:  One minute the dogs were ripping around the horse pasture, the next minute Tipper was three-legged lame.  Manipulation of his affected leg revealed a torn ligament in his knee. Tip’s going to need to have surgery followed by a couple of months of rehabilitation therapy.  Problem will be solved. 

I hate to think what week five holds in store……………

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

Colorblind Adoptions

October 14, 2009

Whenever I meet with a patient (dog or cat) and client (their human) for the first time I always ask some version of, “How long have you two known each other?”  I love watching my client’s face light up as they recall that first moment of kitten or puppy love.  I delight in hearing the wonderful and amazing tales of how their lives managed to cross paths.   If my patient happens to be a black cat, I always provide kudos to my client for having performed an extraordinarily good deed.  You see, black kitties are notoriously more difficult to find homes for than are cats of other colors.  Perhaps this is related to black cat Halloweenish superstitions.  What I hadn’t realized, until now, is that black dogs are also more difficult to place than their colorful canine counterparts.

Dr. Kay with her dog Lexie who was solid black until 12 years of age

According to an October 9th NBC News article by Emily Friedman, just as is the case for black cats, large black dogs tend to be the last ones to be adopted from shelters.  There are a few theories as to why. Many shelters offer no natural lighting, making it hard for the face of a black dog to stand out- it is more difficult to distinguish their facial features than it would be in lighter colored dogs or those with contrasting markings.  Kim Saunders, the head of shelter outreach for the Web site Petfinder.com believes that black dogs are overlooked because they don’t photograph as well as lighter colored animals.  When people are shopping for the next love of their lives, they are looking for a face that stands out with special appeal.  Some theorize that it is human nature to be drawn to things with more vibrant color or riveting hair coat patterns.  Placing solid colored black cats and large black dogs can be so difficult that some shelters run promotions and try to create more color and appeal- necks adorned with colorful scarves, discounted adoption fees, and even superhero names. When you are ready to begin searching for the next canine or feline love of your life, I encourage you to pay special attention to those that are solid black in color. They’re in need of a special advantage when it comes to landing in the type of loving, caring home that every dog and cat deserves.

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

Preparing for the “Unthinkable”

October 9, 2009

 It’s hard to imagine that our pets might outlive us.  Worse yet is imagining our beloved pets, unsettled by the loss of their favorite human, having to adapt to a new situation, perhaps without the affection, and attention we would want for them.  As hard as this “unthinkable” situation may be to consider, I encourage you to prepare for it in a way that protects your precious four-legged family members. 

Just as you are obliged to create the paperwork that makes it undeniably clear who will inherit your possessions and assume guardianship of your children, spend some time determining who will take care of your pets.  Here are some tips for getting started: 

-Select the person you want to assume guardianship and confirm their willingness to take on this responsibility.  I encourage you to be specific about your wishes regarding the quality of care for your pet and your philosophy about medical treatment and euthanasia. 

-Prepare all of the official paperwork just as you would for any other advanced directives.  

-Set up a trust fund to care for your pet’s future needs.  Providing for the guardian will allow the guardian to provide for your pets. 

I recently happened upon a wonderful website (www.pettrustlawblog.com) that will help you with all legal matters pertaining to pets, including trusts and guardianship.  Attorney Danny Meek presents material that is thoughtful, comprehensive, and easy to understand.  (This says a lot, as I’m rarely able to comprehend attorney-speak.)  It’s also clear that this guy really loves animals.  I encourage you to pay Mr. Meek a visit. 

As my Grandma Goldie used to tell me, “People plan, and God laughs.”  My husband and I have made plans for our animals, should the “unthinkable” happen.  How about you?

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

The Evil That Lurks in California

October 2, 2009

You’ve heard it in the news.  There’s the gazillion dollar budget deficit, declining academic test scores, state park closures, and never-ending heated discussion about gay marriage and illegal immigrants.  What you may not know is that there is something even more sinister lurking in California.  It is of the ilk that science fiction writers fantasize about- alien creatures that penetrate body cavities, migrate through tissues, and wreak havoc!

Take the recent case of Emma Louise, a darling four-year-old residing in northern California.  One minute she was a healthy, happy, go-lucky little girl.  The next minute she was writhing in pain.  Doctors could not figure out what was wrong.  Little did they know that an alien had invaded her being and poor little Emma Louise was incapable of describing the evil that lurked within…….

Hmm, as I write this I’m wondering if I’ve been denying in inner desire to write science fiction!  I met Emma Louise just a few days ago.  She came to me for a second opinion to try to figure out the cause of her abdominal discomfort. Emma Louise is undeniably adorable- part hound dog and part Brittany Spaniel- and there’s nothing she enjoys more than running through fields with her nose to the ground.  The problem is, the fields are loaded with foxtails- awful little bristly weeds that grow rampantly throughout California in the late spring and summer months.  They seem hell bent on finding their way into dogs’ noses, ears, eyes, mouths, and just about every other orifice.  Not only is the dog’s body incapable of degrading or decomposing them, the foxtails are barbed in such a way that they can only move in a “forward” direction.  Unless caught early, they can migrate through the body causing infection and tissue damage.  Once foxtails have moved internally, they are notoriously difficult to find- they become the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Apparently Emma Louise was a “foxtail magnet” having accumulated several in her ears and nose over the years.  Her current symptoms were different than any she’d experienced before- she appeared to have abdominal pain and was straining to urinate and have bowel movements.  Other than a mild fever and some abdominal splinting, her physical examination findings were unremarkable. I performed abdominal ultrasound and discovered a gigantic abscess tucked up under Emma Louise’s spine and extending back (towards her tail) into the pelvic canal.  Given this girl’s history, I just knew there had to be a foxtail somewhere in that huge abscess pocket.  The question was, would we be able to find it.

I prayed to the “god of foxtails” and turned Emma Louise over to one of my esteemed colleagues (a surgical specialist) for abdominal exploratory surgery. After approximately two hours of me biting my nails and some expletives heard in the operating room, there was a shout of “Hurray!” My colleague had located and removed the foxtail!  Now with some post-op exercise restriction and a course of antibiotics, Emma Louise will be good as new.  Not finding the foxtail would have meant lifelong antibiotics, unless the foxtail migratory course happened to exit the body.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to experience the unique flavors and marvelous beauty of California.  After reading this, you might just have a change of heart- now that you know of the evil that lurks there!

Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged family members much good health!

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross